Some considerations on Bible translation as complex process

  • J.G. Van der Watt
  • Y. Kruger


It is argued that translation is a complex process: meaning is "created" by decoding the source text on several levels (for instance, grammatical; structural; literary; and socio-cultural levels). This "meaning" must then be encoded into the target language by means of the linguistic, literary, and cultural conventions of the target language. These different aspects (grammar, structure, etc.) combine in an interactive process and result in meaning. Atomisation or compartmentalisation of the various aspects distorts communication. It is also argued that it should be assumed that what can be said in one language can be said in (translated into) another language, but not necessarily by combining the relevant linguistic, literary and cultural aspects in the target language in the same way as they were combined in the source language. This is because languages do not overlap in their use of words, structures, genres, and social conventions. This inevitably leads to the realisation that a translation could and would never be an exact "copy" of the original.

(Acta Theologica, Supplementum 2, 2002: 118-139)

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2309-9089
print ISSN: 1015-8758